Although Sri Lanka is surrounded by ocean on all sides, the fish resources in the North and the East could not be harvested for many decades but the situation has now changed and they are getting fish from all coastal areas, said Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.
Salmon is a favourite food item among the rich as well as the low income groups as it does not need to be refrigerated. Therefore the government has taken steps to encourage domestic production of canned fish, Dr.Senarathna further pointed out.
Minister Senarathna expressed these observations participating as the Chief Guest at the launching ceremony of The Tess Group of Companies Sri Lankan canned fish product 'Oliver's Pride', at the Cinnamon Lake, recently.
The TESS (Tropic Engineering Supplies and Services) group is a diversified group of companies engaged in engineering, deep sea fishing and export of marine products from Sri Lanka. TESS group was established in 1980 and it is the largest exporter of tuna from Sri Lanka to the European markets - Belgium, Germany, Japan, Italy, USA etc. The group has introduced many varieties of salmon and Oliver Pride is their latest salmon variety.
The brand has been named after his enterprising father, Oliver Fernando, who had been in business for over 35 years,
The Minister lauded the indomitable spirit, courage and entrepreneurship of the CEO and Director, Shiran Fernando and other stakeholders of the company for the successful launch of the product amidst insurmountable obstruction and harassment by multinational companies in the industry.
CEO and Director, Tess Group of Companies, Shiran Fernando said that the project became a success due to the encouragement and assistance provided by Minister Senaratne.
He said that the company will, in the course of time, meet the national need of 125,000 cans per day while at present they only produced one fourth of it.
From the early 70s, since the time of the then Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, repeated efforts made by the Government, in collaboration with large companies, to launch a fish canning industry in Sri Lanka were unsuccessful because of obstruction by the multinational companies, the Minister said.
The efforts of the Tess group of companies, under its own initiative, to launch a joint venture with the Plaza, Japan, also became futile after the tsunami that hit Japan destroyed everything owned by Plaza, the Minister said.
Tess has now offered for the first time an innovative, quality product made of ‘virgin coconut oil and tuna’ at a low price, he said.
When he took over the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, it was in debt to the tune of Rs.123 million but all that has been overcome and the Ministry is now on the right track promoting local aquatic products, he said.(KH)